Saturday, 27 February 2016

White Castle

The Castle Cat.  Such a sweety and we had lovely cuddles.

Not the most flattering photo of Danny as the sun was SO bright, hence his eyes shut.

As you can see, the cat had his eyes shut too!  More than a passing resemblance to Sharon's (Morning's Minion's blogspot) Bobby McGee.

I'm sorry, I am in the horns of a dilemma  today, so I'm not really up to words tonight.  You will have to make do with photos.

The hill in the distance is the Blorenge which overlooks Abergavenny.

A lovely view.

Moat outside the curtain wall and towers.

Above and below: Offa's Dyke runs right in front of the cottage you can see.

The tempting trackway which leads you on to Skenfrith and Grosmont Castles.  This triumvirate guards the border lands between Abergavenny and the English (Herefordshire) border.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Castles post - Raglan first

Shall I be mean and say which Welsh Castle is this?

If you know this castle, this might help . . .  Wasn't I mean to tease you all yesterday.  It is - of course - beautiful Raglan Castle.  If I had shown the photo below, you might have had a sporting chance . . .

I will apologize for the blue smear which is obvious in many of the photos.  I obviously put a grubby thumb mark on the lens.  Smack wrists.

Anyway, we were out visiting castles yesterday, mainly because we had planned out a day around viewing a cottage near Ross-on-Wye, only to have a last minute phone call cancelling because the vendor had Shingles.  So, we went anyway, and started off at Abergavenny, where there is a Fleamarket every Wednesday.  It has been several years since we last went and we were looking forward to having a wander round, especially as there are usually a few Militaria stalls.  We had a lovely stroll, whilst Danny set off to explore the town and came back later with a coffee to see what we had been interested by.  There are a couple of good book stalls (one had some very tempting cookery books and I may get tempted next time . . .) and we met up with some friends of ours from the Fleamarket circuit, which was nice.  I spent just £2 on an old horse book.  Then it was on to Raglan.

No photo of the main gateway as they "had the builders in" and they had parked their van outside, and there was scaffolding all over the place.  So instead, a view of the left hand side of the castle and the bow of the moat.

The entrance into the Pitched Stone Court, above and below.

I stood inside the great hall yesterday, looking out through this beautiful Elizabethan window, and thinking of how its occupants must have felt the day Colonel Fairfax and his cohort of Roundheads came pouring through the gatehouse.

It was built relatively late, this beautiful castle, around the mid 15th C.  I doubt they thought then it would ever see war or be besieged or attacked.  How wrong history was to prove them.

Here is the business end of things, the red sandstone walls hiding the large kitchen area behind them.

One of the fireplaces in the vast kitchen.

And the other . . .

The view from the rear of the castle, looking across to the Sugarloaf.

More details later.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Life as we live it

Danny had some friends round last night.  He made a meal for them - a huge Chilli with extras - a good splash of Kentucky bourbon and some stout to give it depth and take away some of the tomato-iness of it.  10/10 from me!  He asked for a Victoria Sponge, so I made this one, which is full of double cream and chopped up strawberries.  It has been a busy week, one way and another, but it's nice to have someone to bake for again.  I've made Chocolate Blackberry Brownies to hand round to fellow stallholders tomorrow, and a Mincemeat Cake for a friend who appreciates some home baking after his wife left him.

I have made a start on the new x-stitch project.  The area I've done so far is the tree and few sheep to the right of the gate and just above the wall.  I shall outline the sheep tonight, and try and do my outlining as I go along as there's a fair bit of it.

Tomorrow Danny is holding the fort here whilst we go off to man our stall at the Fleamarket in Carmarthen.  It is a long day so I doubt we will be late to bed tonight.  The car is packed within an inch of its life - we always pack carefully and when we unload the other end, it always have enough to spread onto two stalls, so we will have to "pile it high" as they say.  After buying two spare Dyson vacuums at auction recently, when my Dyson stopped sucking up and despite open heart surgery, we couldn't find why, my husband had another disembowelment of it and found a chunk of fluff where I swear there was none before!  Anyway, as that is now working again, we have kept a spare and I ordered fresh filters for one of the replacements as one was missing, and it is working perfectly so we will sell it on now.

Does anyone follow The Archers?  I have been a fan and follower since 1973, when I got fed up with just hearing the top 20 played over and over on Radio 1 and tuned into Radio 4 instead.  There is a very compelling story line at the moment (and for the last few months) involving Rob Titchener's manipulation and bullying of his wife Helen (nee Archer).  Is he a psychopath (sorry, sociopath they are now I think?)  He has many of the attributes . . . I think Rob is on every Archer fan's hit list and it can be chilling listening especially if the listener has any experience of that sort of behaviour in a partner (which I did in the distant past).  I am back to listening every day in the week now, as I'm out on a Sunday so can't listen to the Omnibus as is my wont during the winter months when we are normally at home.  Any episode I miss just HAS to be listened to on catch-up!

I am glad I have managed to string a few words together for a longer post today.  As the whole world can potentially read this blog, I try to avoid emotions, politics, problems, worries and "personal stuff".  That doesn't mean it isn't happening sometimes.  Gosh, I could write some good scripts for The Archers just from personal experiences.  I don't think I'll volunteer though!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Shields and a local walk

Well, details of 3 of the shields.  I will have to take the last tomorrow for a close-up, but  if anyone can throw any light on these, I would be grateful.    A Welsh dragon here, but over an open book/pick/anchor?/hammer?

Strange is this one.  A snake on a shield background? with a rising or setting? sun above it.

This one I have found: the two-headed lion with a mermaid and a motto - Per adua ad alta - through efforts to high things.  Connected with Birmingham University.  So I expect the others are and they all probably came from Aberystwyth University as they have Aberystwyth chalked on the back.

Two little metal shields came with our purchase.

Yesterday it was dry, and when the sun came out, very pleasant.  I walked down the hill and along by the river, which had dropped quite a bit overnight.

Then up to the junction, and turning up the lane to go up past Eisteddfa, which is a farmhouse on a very ancient site connected with our local Saint Egwad, who had a preaching cell there.  Here are the first Pussy Willow "paws" I have seen.

The lane ahead, one of the few flat bits.

Climbing up, there's a nice view across to the hills behind Black Mountain (Brynaman is behind these hills).  I can just see the Bronze Age cairns up there but I know where to look!

Looking across to the Towy Valley and the far side of that valley.

A pair of Kites who were synchronistic in flight.

On my way back I took a zoom in on one of the farmhouses on the hills above our house, N-E of it.

Finally, a view all regular followers will recognize.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Sunrise with random UFO!

This image just about sums up my state of mind at the moment - e.g., brain not in residence.  In future I should remember that windows give reflections . . .  In my defence, it was jolly cold outside, I've had very little sleep lately, and I just grabbed my camera without thinking and pressed click. . .

The reason for the empty head is because we had an early start on Sunday for a Fair, and a middle of the night start the following day, as we had been messaged by our travelling son to say that he was on a plane home on Monday, and could we pick him up at Heathrow?  Well, affirmative of course, but it meant setting the alarm for 3 a.m. and driving for 3 hours in pitch blackness, which I HATE! before there was any glimmer of daylight. There was a surprising amount of traffic about too, which meant dipped headlights all the time so extra concentration was necessary, especially our end of the M4 where the road markings were faint (or invisible) and the cat's eyes seem to have been replaced by a cat with its eyes SHUT.

Anyway, he is safely home now and we have surprised both his sisters and a good few of his friends.  He had a wonderful time but isn't done with travelling yet and intends to explore more of Europe, go to Iceland, back to Thailand and Cambodia, and also Vietnam, and is hoping for a two year visa for Canada.

Meanwhile, eldest daughter T is back with her boyfriend, and happy again.  I shall see her next when she comes down for my birthday in April.  Middle daughter G is back with her long term boyfriend too, has bought a car with him, and has some fresh career options to consider, so she's happy too.

We have another Antiques Fair next weekend, and today my OH hung some painted wooden Victorian heraldic shields which have Aberystwyth written in chalk on the reverse, and we think represent ancient Welsh families as the heraldic devices are VERY obscure.  It is interesting researching them though.  We got them last weekend from a fellow trader.  I will put more detailed photos up tomorrow.  There are two small metal ones too.

Still reading The Serpent Papers, and just started on The Book Thief.  Aida and missing embroidery colours bought for my friend's x-stitch picture gift, and 100 plastic floss spools ordered on Fleabay (from China, where cheapest and from a company with good feedback).  So I'm slowly getting getting organized.

I have been doing some brain improving tests on line today, and have a couple of booklets which were free with the Weekend Telegraph.  I am useless at the ones with figures, so am sticking to the word-orientated sort.  However, I can announce I trained my memory to remember the first 10 items of the Periodic Table today.  Go me!